Carol Channing
By: Lynn Peril | Categories: HiLo Heroes, Movies

Instantly recognizable by her saucer eyes, mop of platinum hair, and gravelly voice, Broadway legend CAROL CHANNING (born 1921) rocketed to success as Lorelei Lee in a 1949 production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She was “a dazed automaton” on the boards, “husky enough to kick in the teeth of any gentleman on the stage, but mincing coyly in high-heel shoes and looking out on a confused world through big, wide, starry eyes. There has never been anything like this before in human society,” raved New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson. Husky, mincing, and coy: no wonder Channing has been a favorite of female impersonators for decades. PS: In her 2002 autobiography, Channing confessed that when she was 16 years old, her mother informed her that her paternal grandmother was black, a fact she imparted lest Carol be “surprised” by a future offspring’s skin color.

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On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Grant Morrison.

READ MORE about members of the New Gods generation (1914-23). ALSO: Is Carol Channing immortal? We hope so.

READ MORE HiLo Hero shout-outs.

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Lynn Peril is the author of Swimming in the Steno Pool: A Retro Guide to Making It in the Office. She lives in Oakland, California.